TONY LEON: Rise of political professionals over citizen-politicians drains the well of ideas to respond to issues
The Bosasa bribes scandal suggests professional politicians are easy to bribe; or, worse, the very idea of public service is not entered with a desire to ‘do good’
And then there were none.
That was the thought that occurred last Thursday, in Bryanston, Sandton, when I attended the memorial service for Rupert Lorimer.
Until his death in early January, Lorimer was the last living member of the group of six new MPs who, in 1974, were elected to parliament for the Progressive Party, to serve alongside its long-time, sole representative, Helen Suzman
His death just two months after the passing of the higher-profile Alex Boraine, draws the curtain on an old era. But it poses some questions for both the party that Lorimer supported for most of his life and for the country he adopted as home, as it heads, again, to the polls. Lorimer (whom I joined in parliament in 1989) was more a workhorse than a show pony. But as his son James, currently a DA MP, mentioned in his tribute, a lower-profile approach sometimes reaps outsize results, especially when combined with a “let’s talk to everyone” approach. And it helps if you understand your opponent’s psyche. During the heyday of apartheid forced removals, Lorimer jnr recounted at the memorial the following lesser known story about his dad: “He was a parliamentarian who talked to everybody, even those parliamentarians in the National Party. He understood them and used this sometimes to win victories that would otherwise not have been won.” He recounted how an intervention stopped the force...